About Me

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Great Falls, Montana, United States
I love creating art. I love the Creator! And through that love, I find a little slice of heaven on earth and I give Him all the glory! It's a great adventure and I'm excited to see what's around the bend! Come join me, won't you?
Showing posts with label decorative stitching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label decorative stitching. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

bernina circular foot ~ fun decorative stitching!

hi friends !

it's really been fun to relax, and play with some of the tools i've had in my sewing studio, and really begin to explore them, just a bit more.

today's post is about a simple little tool; the "circular foot attachment," {bernina #83} and it works in conjunction with another foot, such as an open toe foot or clear embroidery foot.  i prefer the #20 open toe foot as i enjoy using the placement advantage it gives me, using the inside, or outside edges of the toes of the foot, as well as an open view.

now the #83 foot {for bernina} attachment is common to many other brands of machine, and it's been around for ages.  it's quite a lot of fun, i've enjoyed mine tremendously.  {as you can see from the beat up box it comes in}.  

keep in mind... this attachment keeps your stitching perfectly circular, and if you apply a little creative imagination, you can also overlap, cut away layers by stacking multiple layers, make your appliqu├ęs, and well, the list goes on! 

"the circular embroideryCircular embroidery attachment # 83 lets you embroider unusual and decorative circles or semicircles. The attachment is screwed to the free-arm. The center of rotation can be either to the right or left of the needle, with the attaching screw lying flat enough to allow the fabric to feed smoothly over it. A diameter of between 1 and 5/16" inches (2.5 and 13.5 cm) can be set on the slide."
i used two pieces of my own hand dyed fabric, layered with stabilizer.  i used two pieces so i could cut away and create more color and design:
it is absolutely essential to stabilize the fabric! you will eliminate puckered stitches if you do!  i used a heavy weight variety; either cut away, or tear away will work:
did you notice the tension of the stitching?  i want to see a good outline of top thread, being pulled to the back of my piece, as i do not want bobbin thread to be showing on the top.  i love the look of satiny, shiny, and perfectly stitched, decorative stitches!  so if your test stitches indicate that some  of the bobbin thread is showing... lower your top tension.  keep in mind that many decorative stitches have a "default" tension setting, so pay attention to your machine screen, and adjust, or if it doesn't appear on your screen, adjust the tension dial accordingly.
these are my three layers; two of fabric, one of stabilizer
hint:  stitch at a medium speed... not too fast, as you may find that the decorative stitches don't "complete" their sequence quite as nicely. be patient. this is a technique that requires a bit more time, but the results are worth it, as it's pretty dang cool to stitch perfect circles.

and to stack different stitching motifs on top of each other... to cut away fabric in between... to create a design mandala {for lack of a better term} that makes you and your stitching look like a dream come true!
hint:  when you get to the end of closing off your stitched circle... engage the "pattern end" function, {if you have one} so you don't have to count ... and ensure that your stitches meet up naturally.  when it is time to enclose the circle, i stop, approximately three stitch motifs from the end, and adjust as needed, either holding the fabric just a tad, or pushing it forward just a tad, so that the ends meet.  

hint: engaging needle down is really important.  

hint:  it's fun to use your mirror imaging to change the stitch pattern direction!  this is fun to stack with other decorative stitches, and in effect... create your own! 

hint: with a bernina machine, it's easy to adjust your stitch width as you sew... no need to stop.  so don't hesitate to figure it out ~ adjust and fine-tune your sewing skills to enhance the results of your fun with this technique!

i love heavy, perfect satin-stitched, decorative stitches!  the orange scallop sequence seen in the above photo.  

hint: as i came to enclose the circle, i reduced the width ever-so-slightly, so i couldn't see any fabric in between each thread ... i love it!  

and... i used magnifico thread.  beautiful!
see the hole in the middle of the stabilizer, shown below?  that is because this attachment uses a sharp tack, onto which the fabric sandwich rotates.  it's easy to make different size circles, as the attachment also slides from center, to wider circles, as they encompass the tack.  i always try to use the same center hole, when i want perfect circles.

to see more... visit bernina.com for a video of how this attachment works!  this video is well done, and shows the attachment and all of it's parts, {it's pretty straight forward ~ don't be scared!}, and shows the how-to of attaching the attachment!  ... and many other great ideas for other ways to creatively use your decorative stitches!

i hope you will!  it's fun, and easy.  and a great technique to take advantage of some wonderful stitches in every machine!

this was a fun practice piece, and when the stitch density is to thick, it's easy to tear away the stabilizer.  i think i will batt these samples, and quilt in the outside... i may add some couching with dazzle dazzle thread, too!  

and... they will be used as decorative table centers, candle mats... and wonderful eye candy on any surface in your home!

happy days.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Scatter Joy:" Art Quilt

I LOVE to FINISH project!  Nothing like that feeling of accomplishment!  I'd been working on this piece for a couple months, and had published the finished picture in yesterday post - in case you missed it!  Sometimes things have to "simmer" on my quilting stove for a while!  Just call me a regular ol teapot! LOL.  I began with a piece of hand-dyed fabric, in BRIGHT orange!  Then came the words "Scatter Joy" from a notecard I 're-purposed' from my favorite art teacher/artist extraordinaire - Katie Twedt!
I'm getting better at including some decorative stitches... no need for me to be prejudiced!  After all, everyone likes to get into the FUN... including the silver leaf (made for wood) but it's great on fabric!

And then it was time to apply a ZIPPER---lime green!  Fabulous! Easy to apply free motion, as well as adding a decorative stitch - the triple straight stitch! And an experiment with some metallic foil - this time a different type, from "Jones Tones" with their dimensional foil glue.  I tried to hurry-up (mistake!)... and dry it faster with my heat gun.  No, No!  It bubbled... perhaps it's okay on another day... but I didn't like it on the zipper, when it bubbled. No biggie... onward and UPWARD! A dab of black thread.  This glue product is easy to sew through, FYI!

I had made my angelina fibers into a "fabric sheet" previous to placing on the appliques, of course.    I got to put into play my sizzix machine and the fusible appliques were a breeze!  No tedious hand-cutting, tracing... sore wrists!  I bought mine from Patsy Thompson's webs site!  (She has good sales, too!) AND great service!

 Then a bit of a zig zag free motion edge-stitching on the flower petals- I call it the herky jerky!

 And you may notice... I don't let it bother me when the lines cross!  "There is a time for everything under the sun" and free motion is no different!!!  Sometimes I don't like it to cross...sometimes I'm really lovin' it to cross!!!  Shake it up girls... break down that box that walls you in... and enJOY!

 I forgot to mention earlier... I also textured the orange fabric with bubble wrap, brushed with textile paint... as well as paintstiks!  I enjoy doing that so much!

As you can see, I also used two different bindings... couldn't make up my mind?!!!  YUP.  Sometimes that's a dilemma for me.  I liked the graphic "pop" of the black and white circles fabric... and I loved the purple to tie in the turquoise thread stitching and purple of the flowers - and it called out to be curved.  Straight edge was a bit boring!  So... curved edge it was... even though it's still a bit of a boxy shape... but I LIKE it.
I hope you enjoyed the show! 

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Giant Springs -- a beautiful, colorful, fresh water, bubbling, amazing and very large, natural spring!  It bursts forth from the ground near the Missouri River in Great Falls.  It's also part of a beautiful park; situated along the "Rivers Edge Trail" -- the jewel of this city! This is the quilt I named for the springs, because the colors are so amazing. There is the brightest and glowing greens of every shade in the underwater plants, and of course, in spring and summer months, the park has lots of flowers too...
Boy, I hope I get points for PATIENCE... this much blanket-stitching is bound to build something!

What a beautiful place! I had to go to the State of MT website to find this picture, as unfortunately, I don't have any digital pictures I've taken yet.  See that cement bridge to the left outer edge of the picture? It's so cool to walk across it and gaze into the 'waterfall' that is created by the rock outcropping outlining the spring itself.   I can't wait to get down there... even though today we woke up to 7 new inches of new snow...plus four more today (Sunday), and it's been 0 degrees or below, or barely above all weekend.

And... of course, then it's time to try another decorative stitch.  I always highly recommend YLI "Variations" - it's a 35 weight 100% polyester, with a dash of variation in colors... perfect! 
And the blocks are the perfect background to practice MULTIPLE MOTIFS!  

Go for it! 

Pattern is called "Petals on the Edge" by the talented designer and quilter Cheryl Wittmayer of Billings, MT, from her SEW-BE-IT pattern company; a Montana based business lady with a great eye!  Visit her website here and be prepared for some fabulous inspiration!

I made this quilt a number of years ago now... and I have to say, that the black thread in the decorative stitch on this flower was very boring!!  Kind of a waste in a way... I think perhaps another thread color, or variegated would have been a funner choice... but it's all good!  That's the way I learn!  And it was a great way to get to know my new machine, and play with that wonderful stash of fabrics we enjoy having!
Great big flowers --- that is what makes a great flower block.  And it's not like we're lacking for great inspiration with all the big flower prints that are BLOOMING everywhere in 'fabric-land!'

And then... try your hand with a bit of METALLICS!  Just a simple, straight stitch --- free motion, cuz that's the easy way to add just a bit of sparkle... like the water bubbling from Giant Springs!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I know I've had more than a couple posts about  threads... and it's likely that I won't ever stop teaching... encouraging... showing... learning more!  It's just THAT IMPORTANT if you want to learn to make metallics SING FOR YOU!  
Expand your creative world 'to infinity and beyond!"with metallics!
Without that knowledge, your fun at the sewing machine... isn't so much fun!  Here are pictures of a couple spools I use frequently, and quite successfully.  You may have read my previous posts about Glitter Thread (from Superior Threads).  It's such a fabulous shiny, glitzy addition to any quilting or decorative application...and once you master the tension and knowledge, and yes... troubleshooting... it's like --- well, putty in your hands!
And... then there is YENMET metallic thread... by far,  the best metallic thread I've ever had the pleasure to sew or quilt with!  And if you live here in Great Falls, MT... you can get it at the BERNINA SILVER THIMBLE!  HEADS and TAILS above the rest. (if I was asked!)  And in Bernina Land, they even recommend Yenmet in the embroidery module!  That's some heavy stitching!
If they are recommending it in the embroidery module, you know it's gotta be GOOD.  Here's a picture of some embroidery I've done, and on JEANS, no less! (Yenmet thread was used in the triple stitching that surrounds the embroidered design from Laurel Burch, and the 'swirls' too)
 The "L" was done free motion, with a zig zag stitch, using the "Glitter" thread.
The second picture shows Glitter thread, free motion quilting in a straight stitch, over the patchwork cotton, embroidered onto the surface of the jeans.
  • you get to use a 90/14 metallic or top stitch needle.
  • you get to  sew a bit slower
  • you get to LOWER your top tension - at least one or two full notches.  I always go down to a 1.0 on my Bernina's.
  • best to use a bobbin weight thread (Bottom Line from Superior)
  • learn to change out your needle if it gets too hot... yes, it can get hot... metal thread on metal needles equals HOT!  So your needle may not be dull... but it may get hot.  Switch it out, and then start again.
  • learn to re-thread your machine if things don't go quite right.  This is one of the MOST important things to do (it's a VIP!) .  Metallic threads, in my experience, have a tendency to want to 'pop out' of the top thread lever.
  •  use a thread stand if you can, and watch the twist of the thread coming off the cone.  Especially for Glitter... take it off the top of your machine, and RE-THREAD it!  IT IS ABSOLUTELY one of the BEST THINGS YOU CAN DO!
Once you practice, understand, and apply knowledge, functionality and stitching preferences, you can do sew many things very successfully; even those "high maintenance" type products.  I've done beautiful zig zags, satin stitching, and more with these beautiful, glitzy threads... and all the silver metallic with GLITTER or YENMET, is FREE MOTION!

and ... as Jimmy Dickens once said:
(he's an (older!) country music guy)...

Friday, January 28, 2011

JoyFUL we Adore Thee!

My current project is one in the works for today's blog.... and it all started with this: THE BIG SHOT! I do alot of fusing... and I love it!  But sometimes cutting with the hands is well... hard on the hands!  So have been waiting ... thinking... contemplating about the Accuquilt GO and those cool quick cut dies for several years... and am glad I went the Sizzix direction. SAVED me lots of moo-lah!  Now I am not saying Accuquilt isn't fabulous... it sure is.  But that much money out-of-pocket (about $500 just to get started with the GO)... wasn't happening for me, personally!  
Many thanks to Patsy Thompson and Kelly Jackson, both of whom were gracious, knowledgeable ... and really helped me decide about which machine to purchase... and showed the "how-to's"  through their terrific blogs,  being KIND and taking TIME...to answer my emails and the many questions I had!  The gal at Patsy's store (whom I have now forgot - maybe it's Nicki) is SWEET to help when I CALLED -- she even checked the box to tell me what it actually contained so I could get all the info I needed about accessories... YAY! I dearly adore... personal service!  Don't you?!
Batik fabrics, Steam-A-Seam, and a pressing sheet... and some time... time to play... rearrange... re-organize... and then... Poof!  It's like...

           h   a   p   p  y...
a ... bit... addictive.... and.... 
m  a  g  i  c  a  l !
Turning to some hand-dyed fabric of mine... hmmm... let's try this 'marveles' orangy-tango piece...  a touch of paintstiks, bubble wrap as texture.... stencils...textile paint, a mesh bag... throw in some fusible circles... (just because I can!)

 and then  a  ...   z  i  p  p  e  r  !
and... if necessary... use words!

v  i   b  r  a  n  t  !
and don't forget.... the.... 

a   n  g  e  l  i  n  a  !!!
and "sew ye shall reap... so shall ye sow..."
J   o   y ...

It's a  p  l  a  y  t  i  m  e  in progress!  
more to come...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011



This is the first quilt in a series I am planning... dedicating an art quilt to each of several Sisters and Friends.

REJOICE!  That's what I feel everytime I see this lovely young lady, RACHEL. I rejoice! So this art quilt is dedicated to her!  (And it is her birthday gift too!)  This young lady was part of a girls basketball team that won their school's first-ever Class C basketball championship several years ago - their highschool has only 32 kids in it!  She now plays college basketball at MSU-Bozeman, MT.  (GO BOBCATS!) Charming, warm-hearted, strong, faithful, and FULL of  vibrancy our Rachel is... beautiful, athletic, and a good friend to others;  she's a hard worker,  (see how she can help her Uncle John vaccinate cows!)  

That vaccinating gun is "hot!"
Charming, and warm-hearted!  I am so fortunate to know her, and we and the rest of the girls have an awesome blessing of spending time together at Flathead Lake whenever we can. Moms and girls... we've had the huge blessing to share some absolutely fabulous memories together! I love you Rach! 

It's a fairly small quilt; approximately 8x10" is painted on a muslin base using tissue paper, and acrylic paints.

Free motion couching adds dimension and texture in a very free-wheeling way!  Lovely fabric flowers are fused on.  Heavy bobbin play in pink for added visual interest.  By now you know there is lots on this blog about Bobbin Play, couching, metallic threads! 

I loved this sweet little birdie posed on a "wire" or branch of decorative stitches! This quilt is finished with a very "free" bound edge... the fabric is simply folded over, and stitched somewhat randomly!  FUN FUN FUN!
Detail of Bird and Decorative stitches in "RACHEL"
I really had to challenge myself to get out of that 'perfect box' --- it truly is entrapment!   So I let my stitches BE imperfect, meandering, and decided I could just do a decorative stitch and STOP in the middle of the line if I felt like it!

OH... AH... how I really ENJOYED doing it!  Couching... bobbin play... no 'perfect' plan... just being... FREE!  Much like Rachel!

I love her freckles and pearls... right at home on the ranch!

Detail of Free Motion Couching onto the Fabric Flowers --- HOW FUN IS THAT!

Thank you Lord, for Rachel!  Bless her as she continues to grow, learn and be your LIGHT! Amen!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

TNT Thread NeedlesTension

Very Important:  With threads, the bigger the number (weight), the SMALLER the thread is. With needles, the bigger the number, the BIGGER a needle is.

Once you get those two concepts in your mind, you can really begin to understand what will work for you in your machine, with the process or product you have.  It's all about the basics!

So here are some pics I took of some lovely labels!  Reminds me of a jingle and commerical (we're going back to the 70's folks!) If it says Libby's Libby's Libby's on the Label Label Label...you will like like like it on your sewing table table!!!  Ring a bell with anyone?!  It wasn't really about sewing - I added that part... just my wacky sense of humor.  I think it was about vegetables, but I can't remember for sure!!!  :)

Anyway!  LOVE the Superior labels...finally, thread company Superior Threads is giving us the proper INFORMATION and education we need! Look at this label, and not only will you see the the yardage, but you will notice there is a weight, ply, and size of needle to use!  Wait!  You mean they say what size NEEDLE to use?  Yes!  What a great idea! !

Rainbows (top): 40/3=40 weight 3 ply thread.  A lovely variegated pretty polyester, with a extra bit of high sheen, only because it's a tri-lobal  polyester, which means it has three sides (you can't tell with your own eyes).  It's been specially created that way so that it will reflect light, and that is why there is three 'sides' so to speak. Don't even try it without a 90/14 needle... it will shred if you don't, and that won't be much fun. 50 weight cottons are a good companions with it in the bobbin, as would be a solid colored 40 weight polyester .  I don't usually put variegated threads in the bobbin, unless I know the back will be seen, or the quilt is reversible.
Masterpiece - 50/2 = 50 weight cotton thread, and two-ply means it has two strands twisted together.    Because it's a smaller/thinner thread, it takes up less space in a seam, laying flatter which is especially important for intricate seam piecing, or multiple points that come together or for precise placement.  Primarily it was created for those specific needs.  Use Masterpiece in your top and wind it on the bobbin for the best results in piecing applications. For this kind of application, use an 80/12 microtex needle, or 80/12 HE for best results.
King Tut:   40/3 = 40 weight cotton thread.  What's so great about it? As a 3-ply thread (3 strands twisted together), it's smooth, strong, and has beautiful, but also fairly subtle color variations.  Use for decorative stitching as well as beautiful free motion quilting.  I like to use masterpiece in my bobbin when King Tut is being sewn from the top.  Smooooooth sailing!
  • Notice also that because Masterpiece is s a finer weight, you get more on the spool, and can wind more on your bobbin.  Love that!
    • What kind of thread is it?  Well, many companies may say"Egyptian thread" but if it's TRUE Egyptian extra long staple cotton, they will be HAPPY to say exactly THAT--- and  the acronym "ELS" will be printed, not something just generic. Buyer beware!  Superior labels it exactly what it is.  Yes, ELS will cost more... but it will also save you much in time and frustration.  Buy the best quality you can afford, but know the difference!
    • ELS: That means it's NICE... and you pay for what you get.  Ever touch the Egyptian cotton sheets that are for sale in a department store?  Fabric is so incredibly smooth, and they're usually a very  high thread count which gives them that extra satiny feel.  Same deal with Egyptian cotton thread! 
    • Why buy Egyptian extra-long staple cotton?  1. It's stronger; less breakage.  2.  It's smoother, which means less fuzz in your tension discs and less cleaning in your bobbin case.  Both Masterpiece and King Tut threads are "ELS!" It doesn't need alot of fancy 'treatments' to make it good, because naturally, it's already the best.
    • King Tut and Rainbows spool will also say: "Use Topstitch 90/14" for the needle ---using the right needle is what will make this thread sing to your machine!
    Here's some very good thread... in fact, it's one of my top favorites!  I encourage all my beginning free motion students to use the YLI "Variations" thread (the pink spool and the bottom label in picture below).  Why?  Because it's strong, as it is a polyester.  And... it's pretty!  Because it's a mid-weight thread - 35 weight and two ply, and it's a great value for the money you spend.  It's good not only in the top of your machine, but if you need a pretty thread on the back, it's wonderful in the bobbin, too.  Use a 90/14 microtex, topstitch or metallic needle with it for best results!
    Notice there is a thread from YLI called "Machine Quilting" (spool on the top far right below) and this is 100% cotton, but it is only "LONG staple cotton" - not Egyptian EXTRA LONG staple cotton.  It's still a very good thread, but does have a few more slubs and fuzz on it, as the strands are not as long and smooth. Pretty good as opposed to VERY good (ELS cottons) in the thread/cotton world. You may find you have to clean your tension discs or bobbin area more often with this thread.

    Bottom Line -- well, here it is!  Beautiful and strong polyester 60 wt thread.  Remember, the bigger the number, the smaller the thread... and that is why you can wind 40% MORE on your bobbin!!!  That is a BIG YAY!

    It is absolutely my first choice in the bobbin when I have any type of metallic thread in the top.  Why?  Metallic thread is rough (like a man) and the polyester... smooth... (like a woman!) Less friction, great marriage!  Great compatibility! They get along WELL together; less breakage, smooth interaction...you get my point!  But don't forget to loosen up tho (the top tension that is!)   Bottom Line is also the embroidery maven's choice because it has great VALUE, great STRENGTH, you can wind 40% more on a bobbin because it's so thin, and you have a fabulous COLOR selection.

    Then we have the much bigger topstitch variety of threads.  I've given you samples of two that I have used, and enjoy.  First picture below is the Caryl Fallert BRYTES thread (pictured above and to the right) by Superior threads.  The second picture below is FUSIONS.

    Fusions thread to the left, designed by Laura Heine for YLI threads.  Both of these thicker weights require a 100/16 topstitch needle.

    You can order Fusions from Fiberworks, Laura's beautiful quilt shop in Billings, MT.  I do LOVE the rich colors of this variegated cotton thread.  The label on the cone says it's 24/3, so it's even slightly thicker than a 30 weight.

    Note that the Superior Threads spool cap tells you what needle to use:  100/16.  Actually, the other end of the spool gives you the size, but I'll just tell you cuz I forgot to snap a shot on the other end; it's a beautiful topstitch thread at 30 wt.  It certainly will give your stitches PRESENCE!

    You'd better be sure your stitching looks good when there's this much thread as it will show up big time on your quilting project! I recommend a polyester 40 weight in the bobbin, so the weights are matched and you don't have make such an extreme adjustment in your top tension. 

    Hope this was informative.  Let me know what questions you have!

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